Author Archive | Good German

Dissent as Murder: Egyptian Court Sentences 529 Men to Death in One Ruling

PIC: Muslim Brotherhood (CC)

PIC: Muslim Brotherhood (CC)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

An Egyptian judge sentenced 529 men to death on Monday for participating in protests that led to the death of a single police officer during clashes last August which followed the military overthrow of democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in July.

All of those sentenced are believed to be members or supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political-religious party from which Morsi took most of his support.

The sentences were handed down after just two court sessions. Though experts say there is a likelikood that the sentences could be overturned, critics of the ruling government—now in the hands of the military and its allies—say the ruling is clear evidence that the those who voice dissent against the regime are in danger of losing their lives.

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Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters Fires Back At Accusations of Anti-Semitism Following Criticism of Israel

PIC: Jethro (CC)

PIC: Jethro (CC)

Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

Confronting recent criticism of his support for Palestinian rights and the BDS movement in two furious, personal, open letters, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters rips the “crude pattern” of equating his and others’ criticisms of “the policies of this government of Israel” with anti-Semitism, viewing it as perhaps “a reaction to the fact that BDS is gaining ground, day by day and year by year, all over the world.” Arguing that dehumanization of the other is “the root of all injustice and oppression” and that “the tree of fear and bigotry bears only bitter fruit,” Waters cites the death of his father fighting the Nazis in Italy to chide critics – especially those penning poisonous pieces about Waters’ “anti-Semitic stench” – with, “Do not presume to preach to me, my father’s son, about anti-Semitism or human rights.”

“Look to your own house and the human rights abuses and racism of the Israeli government you defend.

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Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuels: A Student’s Open Letter to Harvard President Drew Faust

PIC: Harvard (CC)

PIC: Harvard (CC)

Wen Stephenson and Benjamin Franta, via the Nation:

The movement for fossil-fuel divestment has swelled to what an Oxford University study calls the fastest-growing divestment movement in history, one with the potential to shift the political ground beneath the fossil-fuel lobby’s feet. There are more than 500 campaigns globally—including on some 400 college and university campuses in the United States, along with city and state governments and major religious institutions. Ten colleges and more than twenty cities—including Seattle, San Francisco and, as it happens, Cambridge, Massachusetts—have committed to divest.

Back in October, Harvard University President and distinguished American historian Drew Gilpin Faust, having faced more than a year of increasing calls by students, faculty and almuni to divest from fossil fuels, released a statement in which she explained why Harvard would do no such thing, at least not on her watch. Reactions to her position—by critics ranging from climate activist Tim DeChristopher (now at Harvard Divinity School) and Columbia’s Todd Gitlin (an alum) to former Oberlin president and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, among others—pointed to its logical inconsistency, not to mention blindness to moral, political and economic facts.

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Queer Christian Response to News About Fred Phelps Sr’s Health

How should the LGBT community respond to the (eventual) death of Fred Phelps?

PIC: WBC (PD)

PIC: WBC (PD)

William S. Burnett writes:

We’ll leave aside the question of the relationship between God and the “fags.” Using people’s funerals is a horrible way to communicate your beliefs to a wider audience. I don’t personally think that’s what was meant by “freedom of speech” or “freedom of assembly” in our Constitution. But I’m neither a Constitutional lawyer nor a judge, so I’ll leave that alone. I’ll just say that the expression of their hate knew no boundaries! In the Catholic community, we would call that “pastoral insensitivity” at the least; but I think “pastoral insensitivity” is a big understatement!

Over the years, I had been incredibly incensed by Fred Phelps, Sr. and his clan, both as a queer and as a Christian. As a queer, I was incensed because I was the primary target of their vehemence; and, because in their hate, they were trying to project an ugly, evil image of me that was far removed from who I was.

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Do You Know Whether This Was Written by a Human?

Pic: Racco (CC)

Pic: Racco (CC)

I guess we should probably include journalists among those soon to be replaced by robots

Via AlphaGalileo:

A recent study investigates how readers perceive computer-generated news articles.

The advent of new technologies has always spurred questions about changes in journalism – how it is produced and consumed. A recent development which has come to the fore in the digital world is software-generated content. A paper recently published in Journalism Practice investigates how readers perceive automatically produced news articles vs. articles which have been written by a journalist.

The study, undertaken by Christer Clerwall of Karlstad University in Sweden, was conducted by presenting readers with different articles written by either journalists or computers. The readers were then asked to answer questions about how they perceived each article – e.g. the overall quality, credibility, objectivity.

The results suggest that the journalist-authored content was observed to be coherent, well-written and pleasant to read.

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Atomically Thin Solar Cells

Pic: Smokefoot (CC)

Pic: Smokefoot (CC)

Yet another breakthrough in solar technology (via EurekAlert):

It does not get any thinner than this: The novel material graphene consists of only one atomic layer of carbon atoms and exhibits very special electronic properties. As it turns out, there are other materials too, which can open up intriguing new technological possibilities if they are arranged in just one or very few atomic layers. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have now succeeded for the first time in creating a diode made of tungsten diselenide. Experiments show that this material may be used to create ultrathin flexible solar cells. Even flexible displays could become possible.

Thin Layers are Different

At least since the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded in 2010 for creating graphene, the “two dimensional crystals” made of carbon atoms have been regarded as one of the most promising materials in electronics. In 2013, graphene research was chosen by the EU as a flagship-project, with a funding of one billion euros.

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Did the CIA Rape Iraqi Children in Front of Their Parents?

Pic: Institute for Policy Studies (CC)

Pic: Institute for Policy Studies (CC)

Seeing as how questions about the CIA’s torture program(s) and what crimes they’re attempting to cover up are in the news again, it seems like a good time to pull an old Seymour Hersh quote out of the Memory Hole:

“Some of the worst things that happened that you don’t know about. OK? Videos. There are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at [Abu Ghraib], which is about 30 miles from Baghdad — 30 kilometers, maybe, just 20 miles, I’m not sure whether it’s — anyway. The women were passing messages out saying please come and kill me because of what’s happened. And basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children, in cases that have been recorded, the boys were sodomized, with the cameras rolling, and the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking.

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Wastewater Injection Triggered Oklahoma’s Earthquake Cascade

Pic: USGS (PD)

Pic: USGS (PD)

Becky Oskin writes at LiveScience:

One of Oklahoma’s biggest man-made earthquakes, caused by fracking-linked wastewater injection, triggered an earthquake cascade that led to the damaging magnitude-5.7 Prague quake that struck on Nov. 6, 2011, a new study confirms.

The findings suggest that even small man-made earthquakes, such as those of just a magnitude 1 or magnitude 2, can trigger damaging quakes, said study co-author Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Even if wastewater injection only directly affects a low-hazard fault, those smaller events could trigger an event on a larger fault nearby,” she told Live Science.

The Prague earthquake was the largest of thousands of quakes that rattled Oklahoma in late 2011. Three were magnitude-5 or stronger. The 2011 quakes struck along the Wilzetta fault, a fault zone near Prague. Earthquakes break faults like a boat plowing through thick ice — the fault zips open as the earthquake ruptures the fault, and then seals itself shut behind.

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In Defense of Hypocrisy

PProg_19_p51_Hypocrisy

Pic: PD

We’re all a bunch of hypocrites. That’s okay, though: So is everyone else.

Adam Kingsmith writes at DeSmog Canada:

The way in which we think, act, feel and live is wrought with self-denial, contradiction and inconsistency. In a recent piece, I highlighted how various logical fallacies work as psychological flaws that twist and distort our decision-making abilities, making it virtually impossible for someone to make a truly unbiased and impartial choice about anything.
What’s more, because so much of our thought processes are subconscious, our internal contradictions and irregularities rarely register at a more conscious level. And thus our unwillingness to realize this means we tend to think everyone is a hypocrite but us.
According to Why Everyone (Else) Is A Hypocrite, by evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban, the reason we seem unwilling to make an effort to realize our inherent irrationalities is because in Western society, a flattering self-image is directly correlated with personal rewards such as greater senses of emotional stability, motivation and perseverance.

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